These gardens are situated next to the ancient parish church of St. James on Stenner Lane.
Until the last century this area used to be the centre of village life, with the village green situated outside what is now The Didsbury pub, (formally The Ring O’ Bells).
The adjacent pub, The Old Cock, was the coaching inn and originally called simply The Cock, probably because cock fighting used to take place in the upper rooms. Incorporated into this pub was a PostOffice/store and nearby was the village well. But even though the Old Parsonage was in the midst of all this activity it still must have been the secluded haven of peace and tranquility that it is today.
This small, but atmospheric garden, allows you to step back to a quieter, gentler time when the olde-worlde garden was tended for so many years by the Old Parsonages’ most famous residents, Alderman Fletcher Moss and his family.
For more details about the Old Parsonage please go to www.didsburyparsonagetrust.org.uk
Beyond the house there is a more formal garden with flower beds full of seasonal colour and there are many benches to encourage the visitor to sit a while and enjoy the surroundings and the view towards the church and beyond. There are the greenhouses where orchids were grown and, on the lawns are a great variety of interesting small trees including a very rare, yet unremarkable, specimen of an early bio-engineered tree that still survives today and goes un-noticed by most passers-by.
The front of the house is dominated by several magnificent old trees, the tall palms especially, give the house a ‘colonial’ feel. There are many curiosities to be found in these grounds. The graves of several of Mr Moss’s dogs, with their respective headstones, can be seen under one of the sprawling trees in the front of the house. Even a favourite horse is reputed to be buried there!
Near the secondary gate, there is a milestone which was originally situated at the Parrs Wood turnpike toll bar (approximately where the junction of Wilmslow Rd and Kingsway is now).
One of the most recognisable images of Didsbury in modern times is the main gateway to the gardens. This was formally part of the Spread Eagle Hotel, on Corporation Street, Manchester, where Fletcher Moss had once been proprietor. The magnificent eagle and gate was bought by Mr. Moss as a souvenir for ten pounds when the Hotel was demolished in 1902. The Didsbury Civic Society logo carries a representation of the ‘Eagle Gate’.